Expert chat with Mind & Beckie0: Mental health and relationships

Our mental health and relationships experts, Beckie0 and RachelRachel from the mental health charity Mind and Youtube star Beckie0 talk to us about the challenges mental health issues can bring up in our relationships with the people around us.

p>[Gemma: I feel like I have to hide my mental health problems from my family when I am around them. Is there is a way to feel more comfortable about it, and maybe talk about it more?

Rachel from Mind: Hey Gemma. I think it's really common for people to feel scared to talk to family and friends about mental health problems. Telling people how you feel, or being comfortable enough to be low/anxious in front of them, can be a really big step to overcome.

Beckie0: I understand Gemma :) At times I don't feel comfortable with my family seeing me with my conditions too. That's okay. It's good to have some privacy! It's good to have some personal space but at times it is also good to talk to those around you too :).

Rachel from Mind: Great point Beckie0. Sometimes it's also fine to keep things to yourself. What kind of things would you like them to know so you could feel like you weren't hiding?

Gemma: I guess I would want them to just know that I am not always okay, and happy like they see me.

Rachel from Mind: What about writing it down? You don't have to go into any great detail, you could just say what you've said here. Sometimes it's hard to say things face to face, but handing it over and letting them get their head around it can help

Beckie0: I know many people who are hurting and can be unhappy at home and then the moment they leave their home - smile :(. It's not unusual to hide feelings from others. You're right though, it can be liberating to finally tell people how you feel and live without a mask.

Rachel from Mind: Agreed Beckie. And it also means they can give you some support. So Gemma, maybe telling your family could be a way of having someone to lean on. If they don't know how to talk to you about it, they might want to go and get some support too.

Rachel from Mind: Have a look at the Time to Change website too. It's a campaign about ending stigma, and it's got some really great info about how to start the conversation.

Sarah: I had a boyfriend for a few weeks a while ago (my first), but anxiety and depression stopped me from connecting with him and meant I stressed out every time he got in touch so I ended it :/

Rachel from Mind: Hey Sarah. That sounds like a tough situation. Of course anxiety/ stress/ depression can have a really big impact on your relationships. But it's important not to be too harsh on yourself, and think about other things that might have gone wrong too

Sarah: Thanks - to be fair, it wasn't his fault at all, he really wanted to support me - he's a lovely guy. I just found myself unable to connect with him at all, almost like I'd walled myself in, you know? So I was always putting on my happy face when I was with him, which wasn't relaxing at all!

Rachel from Mind: that doesn't sound relaxing- it's really hard to smile all the time.

Beckie0: As corny as it sounds, at the end of the day - your partner should love you for you. Our darker times make the happier times ten times brighter :).

Rachel from Mind: Don't let this experience put you off. Being happy in a relationship takes time and work. When you're living with mental health problems, you have to work out how to support each other and how to deal with things when they're not going as well. You won't always get this right.

Beckie0: It's better to be safe and single, then unhappy in a relationship. Single can be liberating! Focus on you!

Rachel from Mind: Yep, definitely. I think a lot of us put pressure on ourselves to be perfect. Sometimes we think that means never being low, always being happy, never getting angry. But nobody can keep that up forever- so we have to get our head around the ideas that someone will love our imperfect selves.

Ronak: How do you know when in the relationship to tell them about your mental health problems? How long should you wait?

Rachel from Mind: Great question! The short answer is, whenever it feels right to you. The longer answer is, when you trust them, when/ if you want to tell them, and when you've sussed out if they'll understand.

Beckie0: For me, I tell them upfront! Personally even if I try to hide it, it's evident on YouTube or Twitter that I have some issues here and there! It's still tricky though! How much do I tell!? :S. As Rachel said, don't feel you have to tell your partner (or crush!) that you have ____. It's something that's personal. You have the right not to tell them. Trust is important too!

Rachel from Mind: It's a tricky one, because you don't want to scare them away before it gets serious, but you want to let them know who you are too. Try to take your time, don't put pressure on yourself. If it's on your mind and you really want to tell them, then do it! It can really help partners if you tell them they can ask you questions.

Fay: How do you manage to keep up a friendship with someone? They don't know I struggle with stuff, they just think I get upset at times. I hide it. How do I be more open with them?

Rachel from Mind: Hey rosebud. Good question. Friends can be a massive part of our lives. But even if you're really close, it can be hard to tell people what's going on for you.

Ronak: If you think the friendship means a lot to you then try telling them. Or if you don't want to completely tell them try giving them hints, "oh sometimes I get into stages where I feel down" instead of "I have depression" since that can be overwhelming

Jules: I'm very open about my mental health. I decided that's what I had to do a long time ago. If I want to make true friends, I have to be open with them for them to know who I am. I am not defined by my mental illness, but it unfortunately has a lot of control over me

Rachel from Mind: Maybe meeting people you know will understand could help you learn to talk about what you're going through? Going to something like a support group for young people who experience anxiety, or using peer support (online and offline).

Next Steps

  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

Updated on 29-Sep-2015